Young Imams Present American Islam
By Rizwan Khatik - Fri Jan 20, 6:35 am
“We’re beginning to have larger numbers of American kids going into Muslim studies and become imams,” Yvonne Haddad, a professor of the history of Islam and Christian-Muslim relations at Georgetown University, told the USA Today.
Recently, 27-year-old Asif Umar was named the new imam of Daar-ul-Islam mosque in St. Louis area.
“Now if you look at ads for imams, they ask for candidates who know English, can relate to interfaith groups and communicate with a younger generation,” Haddad said.
“They don’t want to lose the younger generation.”
Growing up in the US, Umar, born to Indian immigrants, was different from old imams in St. Louis area.
Devoted to the city’s sports teams, the young Muslim used to mark the end of the holy fasting month of Ramadan with a St. Louis Blues hockey game.
He studied at the Catholic Academy of the Sacred Hearts to the eighth grade.
As Umar says, “Not every imam went to a Catholic school in the suburbs.”
As his friends headed off to high schools, Umar decided to learn more about his faith.
Growing up in a home where religion was an important factor, Zohra Umar, Asif’s mother, was surprised about her youngest child’s dream, at age 14, to memorize the entire Qur’an.
The move showed that immigrant parents of American-born Muslims, who once insisted that their children become doctors and engineers, have begun relaxing those expectations for a new crop of young Muslim-American scholars.